I don't mean to sound like a broken record in my criticism of Gov. Bob Holden but by golly he gives you so many opportunities. With Missouri facing a budget crisis of substantial proportions, Holden's solution is to raise taxes while making only minimal cuts in spending. When will government learn to live within its means?
Holden unveiled his budget solutions Wednesday in his annual State of the State address. And lo and behold, the highlight of his plan is to propose the very same cigarette tax defeated by Missouri voters in November. Holden dusted off the stale tax plan identical to the one killed by voters just two months ago and offered that as his primary solution to the budget crisis.
Then the Governor proposed higher taxes on Missouri gambling revenues and the ever-popular elimination of tax "loopholes."
But when it came to cuts, the best Holden could offer was a reduction in the Medicaid program in Missouri. But that concept is long overdue and should have been part of the state budget approach last year.
Holden will face a tough battle in his higher tax mode. The Republicans control the legislature and they seem unwilling to support higher taxes until greater cuts are made in spending.
Along the way Holden also wants to follow the standard Democratic line of imposing higher taxes on those with higher incomes. This class warfare approach is the new gospel of the Democratic party though it represents a drop in the bucket when it comes to balancing the state budget.
Reductions in the state work force were almost non-existent in the Holden proposal. But look for that to change as the budget process develops. That will give Holden a chance to point the finger of blame for cuts directly at the Republican majority.
Here's what truly bothers me. Holden proposes over $200 million in new revenue by closing tax loopholes and greater enforcement of tax laws. The question is why these areas were not addressed long ago if indeed they can generate that kind of revenue? Did state officials recognize these new revenue sources in the past but ignored them? Surely they didn't just surface in the past month or so.
Holden once again showed his lack of leadership and his lack of skills in running the state of Missouri. Our state however will weather this storm despite the good Governor's approach.
For us, 2004 can't come soon enough.